Culture Chat

And other musings on humanizing the workplace
Managed Cultures Lead the Pack

Managed Cultures Lead the Pack

November 15, 2017
Charlie Judy

Workplace Culture is squishy. There is no widely accepted recipe or formula for it; it's hard to point to; harder still to quantify. WorkXO defines it as "the collection of words, actions, thoughts, and 'stuff' that clarifies and reinforces what is truly valued inside an organization." But that's our definition. Your employees will likely experience your culture and even describe it differently. And every leader has their own opinion about what it is and what to do about it (trust us on this). So with all the other challenges your business faces, we can see why culture typically takes a back seat: it's complex. And who needs any more of that?

It turns out, however, that the complex nature of culture actually drives its power.

Having the best product or making the perfect strategic move doesn’t buy you much time at the top. The competition moves faster than it used to. As Rita Gunther McGrath wrote in Harvard Business Review, the landscape has shifted from looking for that long-term, sustainable competitive advantage to managing more of a portfolio of “transient advantages,” moving from one short-lived advantage to the next.

Sounds hard, doesn’t it? It's exhausting! But this is where culture comes in. Like most organizations, your competitors have typically ignored it; they’ve been focused on those "transient advantages" to drive success. Everything else - including culture - is simply a luxury to be tended to only after more success. And their neglect is your opportunity.

The single biggest mistake we make about culture is thinking that it can’t really be managed.

Or even worse, that it shouldn’t be managed. As if something so ‘squishy’ should be allowed to grow and evolve organically. Go ahead and let your competitors keep thinking that. And then start getting down to business with yours.

We have proven, our platform has proven, and our clients will attest to the very real and tangible fact that culture can be managed. And it can be done so intentionally, methodically, resolutely. Just as you manage any other operating system in your business - recruiting, comp & ben, performance management, learning - culture can be quantified, measured, analyzed, monitored, maintained, aligned, tweaked, and fixed.

It warrants the same level of attention, investment, and effort everything else in your business gets...if not more.

It needs the same kinds of tools, technologies, and resources you use to manage your people, your finances, sales, marketing, and pretty much everything else. How, after all, is culture any less important than any of those things? We would never say it’s less important – certainly not out loud. So why do we perennially pay it only lip service?

We’re willing to bet that very few of your competitors will argue against the importance of culture. We’re also willing to bet that they aren’t really doing anything at all to manage theirs. They may be talking about it. They may be proud of the one they have. But they aren’t managing it. They’re winging it. That’s dangerous, and it’s your advantage. Maybe one of the few of them left. 

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